A +/- Look at NYC Food


If you are like me, then you have a Mario Batali restaurant checklist, and although it might be at the bottom of the list, Esca would be one of the places you had to go.  Esca happened to be on the top of my list… not so much because I wanted to eat there more then Babbo or Lupa, but because it’s 6 blocks away from my apartment.

Esca is Mario Batali’s seafood restaurant, where the specialty is the Crudo.  If you are in the dark as to the Crudo phenomenom (me, before eating at Esca), it’s basically Italian Sushi.  The restaurant is in Hell’s Kitchen, and is oftentimes referred to as a “pre-theater” destination.

Now if you’re like me, that is usually the kiss of death (pre-theater).  To me that means sub par food packaged in some sort of prix fixe deal to sucker tourists into spending too much because the place guarantees they won’t miss the first 20 minutes of Sweeny Todd because they showed up 30 seconds after the curtain.  There’s no denying the decor is the most “pre-theater’ish” of the Batali restaurants, but don’t let that discourage you, the food is excellent.

What we ate, and the +/- after the jump…

Crudo ($12.00-14.00)

We ordered three crudo… the Hamachi and Snapper which were really fresh and excellent, and the Maine Sea Urchin which was not good.  And by not good, I mean I’m pretty sure I don’t like Sea Urchin.  If you have ever watched Iron Chef you have probably seen a Sea Urchin… round, weird looking things, with a hard spiny shell, when raw they are served inside their shell which has been cut in half.  Very bitter and strange tasting, a definite acquired taste, that I have not definetely not acquired.  If you like Sea Urchin, you’d probably love it… as the other crudo we had were great.


Polipo $11.00  Grilled octopus with giant corona beans and preserved sorrento lemon

Perfectly grilled and tender over corona beans, which are similar in taste and texture to cannelini beans.  The citrus of the lemon, tied the whole thing together. 


Gnocchi di Zucca $21.00 Roasted Cheesepumpkin Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms, sage and saba

Great dish.  As good as it sounds.

It’s embarassing but I can’t remember what I had as a main course… or what bottle of white wine we ordered.  Keep in mind, this is a restaurant whose menu is dictated by the market, so what they serve will change according to seasons and the ingredients that are available.  Many of the things we ordered may not be on the menu, but you can get an idea of what type of place it is.


  • You love seafood

  • You love raw seafood (crudo is the specialty)

  • Are looking for good food, close to the theater district

  • You like quiet, upscale dining


  • You don’t like seafood (especially raw seafood)

  • You like restaurants to be a little rocking, and happening


402 W. 43rd St., (43rd & 9th Ave.), 212-564-7272


November 5, 2005 - Posted by | Food: Italian, Location: Hell's Kitchen, Price: Expensive

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